Here I am, sitting in my single bedroom dorm, having completed my first week in London. What I thought would be a hard adjustment period has really been quite easy. After getting off of a 6 hour over night flight, I found myself alone in a new city, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I made my way through customs with a very nice, British worker that welcomed me to the country with a smile. I then went out to the terminal to find a bunch of people wearing bright blue shirts with Queen Mary written in white. We made our way to a shuttle from the plane and before I knew it I was riding through the streets of London. Big Ben and the London Eye passed on my left, the River Thames wound through the city on my right. Soon enough we reached Queen Mary University of London. One of the only schools in London with a campus, Queen Mary is situated in Mile End, which is in East London. Although it’s a little far away from the main attractions, it’s nestled right in the up and coming area of the East.
Being in East London is not as ‘posh’ and ‘proper’ as I imagined London to be. It is much more residential but beautiful in its own way. The campus is situated right next to a canal leading to Victoria Park, and Olympic Park, constructed for the 2012 summer Olympics. Getting to the campus, I was extremely tired, but none the less incredibly excited to live in such an interesting place. Just driving through, and walking around the first couple of days, I can honestly say that London is the most diverse place I have ever visited, and East London is no exception. Everyone you pass on the street seems to be talking in a different accent. There are places of worship for all faiths, and restaurants that cater to all kinds of food from all over the world. Even though the food is so diverse, there seems to be a fried chicken place on every corner. Not only is there fried chicken but there is luckily a country favorite, Nando’s right near campus.
Being in a new place is a bit overwhelming at first, but I was grateful that the University has been very helpful with the transition. At first, it can seem like you’re really on your own, but going to events and connecting with students that go to the host university is very helpful. My biggest piece of advice for coming to a new University is to get out and go to the events. You’ll end up meeting some really interesting people that you never would have otherwise. So far I’ve been able to meet people from not only the USA but Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden to name a few. The people you meet at University from study abroad are all here to meet people like you, so if you go abroad don’t be afraid to go up and start talking to someone! They’ll most likely want to talk to you as well! And from there, you really can find people to go experience the city with, because it’s much more fun to go exploring with some new, interesting people in a new place. Just in the first couple of days I really felt comfortable getting out of my comfort zone and being open to doing new things with new people, and can’t wait to see what else is in store for these upcoming months!